The difference between BCC, CC and To

There are many advantages to using email over any other form of communication. The biggest is that you can send the same message to a large number of recipients regardless of their location. Because of its near instant nature and large reach, a new set of rules and etiquette has been established. While we largely have the body of emails down, it’s the To; CC and BCC fields that can cause a bit of a problem, even for the pros.

Below are some tips on how to properly use the To; CC and BCC fields in emails.

To
The To field is typically used for contacts who you want to communicate directly with. If you add a few people here then you need to put their names in the salutation part of your email e.g., Hi Tom, Neena and Irina. If you are sending out a company wide announcement, or an email to your team, you can put the individual addresses in the To field and instead of addressing everyone individually use something like: Hello Team.

One of the unwritten but largely accepted email rules is that if an email address is in the To field, you’re saying it’s ok for other recipients to email one another regarding the email. There is a common perception that you should limit the number of people in the To field. There’s no real limit on how many addresses can be included, as long as all the recipients are directly involved in the subject of the email. Even if it’s 1,000 people you can still put them in.

Where this view of limiting addresses in the To box stems from is that more email addresses make the email look unwieldy and could anger people who want their email address kept private. Many users create groups and give each group a name which will show in the To field to all users. This will often eliminate the issue of people wanting their email addresses kept private while simultaneously cutting the number of email addresses people have to scroll through.

CC
CC stands for Carbon Copy and is usually used for people who should know about the content of the email but aren’t directly involved. As such, contacts who are CC’d are not expected to be a part of the conversation but can jump in if they want to. CC can also be used to tell the recipients that they aren’t the only people who have seen this email; if you CC management, most people will see this and will likely be more inclined to follow through on the content of the email.

BCC
Email addresses in the BCC, Blind Carbon Copy, will receive the email, but recipients in the To and CC fields won’t see the address of those in the BCC field. BCC is most commonly used for mailing lists, or other periodicals and for when recipients request that their email address be kept private.

You should be careful with BCC though as, for example, if you are sending an email with sensitive information to one party, and you BCC another, you get in hot water if either party finds out and is not happy about what might be thought of as secret sharing.

These are just a few simple tips to ensure you follow email etiquette. If you would like to learn more about better ways to send emails, please contact us, we can help.

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